May 16, 2012

A to Zed - the rest of 'em

For those keeping track, I ended off with the Elder Scrolls in this challenge. I've been absent for quite some time. Between just not being around and a curiously dodgy internet connection, there's been little time for the web, or Blogger for that matter. Now, instead of spamming everyone's blog watch I'll condense the rest of my list into one post, that you may at least know where I was going to go.

Frank Herbert - the mastermind behind Dune and various other works of science fiction. Besides my long-standing love for Dune, his Destination: Void (The Jesus Incident being my favorite) series and The Dragon in the Sea are some of my favorites of his works.

Gyrojet - Gyrojet were a unique family of weapons back in the 60's that utilized gyroscopically stabilized microjet bullets for projectiles. Poor manufacturing and design dashed their chances of becoming any more than a curiosity. I first encountered these weapons in the role-playing game, Star Frontiers. Curious as to the nature, I did some research and was very pleased with what I had stumbled upon. The designs of the real world Gyrojets even had the visual aesthetics of fire-arms in Traveller.

Hivers - Given my fixation with non-human sapients, the hivers of Traveller fame were a welcome discovery. Their bodies are fine examples of symmetry, with a distinct society and culture.

Illithid - The Mind Flayer, the brain lasher, cutter, devourer, alhoon, and et cetera ad infinum. They're freaking aliens that eat fantasy adventurer brains; what's not to like? These practically build adventures on their own.

Jason and the Argonauts - Any person considering inspirational flicks to watch prior to running a game should see this beauty. The combat isn't retardedly choreographed, the monsters are mean, and the stop-motion animation still looks fluid.

Knights -I would have prefered to have done a bit on armsmen, or "men-at-arms," though knights are these things. Though there has been, I believe, two paladins throughout our group's entire history together, not one knight has ever truly graced its collective chronicles. Whether it be an errant knight, or merely nobility.

Lüscher -My family name; a Swiss name. I like pole-arms, but no, I'm not some autist with a thing for tables and charts. There is history behind this name, though I know so little of it. My grandfather came to North America after his stint as a missionary and eventually married, then later moved to Canada where when he retired, he took up farming. I've seen pictures of the Lüscher homestead in Aargau, somewhere near Muhen in Switzerland. It was a thatch-roof structure that I believe has since been torn down decades ago. Should I ever get a chance to see Europe I would much like to meet his family, and also give Mr. Giger a good handshake, and buy a pint. My name means roughly "he who lives near reeds."

Marathon Series - One of Bungie Software's flagship series. Originally for the personal Macintosh computer, the games were later ported to Windows. Totaling three games, each starts right where the previous left off; going from first contact with a hostile (aren't they all?) collective of races, the generation ship, Marathon, and its colony on Tau Ceti, is assaulted, to later adventures near the galactic core in a stolen vessel with a rampant AI, (and a good supply of expendable human meat-bags). The first game was instrumental in story-telling within first-perspective video games. For those even remotely interested, I heartily recommend going to and downloading Aleph One (all Operating Systems), and the three accompanying games. Marathons RED, Evil and Morgana's Revenge are also available there, and while fan projects, each are built to a high standard, almost befitting professional standards.

Non-Humanity - This is a recurring interest of mine. Sapient life of any matter, form, or environment, that is by definition alien. It could think completely different and apply obscene logics that make sense only to themselves, and it could be bizarre anatomy and senses that stand apart from ours. Basically, while I do enjoy 'men in rubber suits' aliens, I get a figurative hard-on, (pardon my vulgarity), just guessing at and musing how life not like our own would function.

OD&D - When I first encountered Dungeons & Dragons, it was as AD&D 2nd Edition, and that was just before 3rd started doing the rounds. I've never had a real copy of the three Little Brown Books, but once their realm was known to me, and I made my first step past the threshold, I knew what Arneson and Gygax had done, was lost with time, and edition. There is no purist here; I play anything set before me (except 4th Ed., once was enough!), but I am lessened for knowing too few do or want to play the game as it was. As a result, I also became quite interested in the history and development of the game, and later found things like a copy of the First Fantasy Campaign, and the lovely sites Hidden in Shadows, and Philotomy's OD&D Musings.

Pathways into Darkness - Before there was Marathon, there were pathways into darkness, and they  were full of things that go bump in the night. Though most certainly not fantasy, this was a dungeon crawl; with guns, the dead, Nazis, aliens, and skinny Buddha monks. Popular oppinion says Marathon shares more than just a few easter eggs with this gem of a crawler. As of yet though, still no Windows port or source game.

Querulous - And I don't mean the adjective. Arne of Querulous, his blog, has been to some manner of degree an inspiration to me when it comes to visual design, and just video games in general. Through his web log, there is often re-imaginings of various old game series, and other media icons. He is also responsible for Android Arts and Prometheus Spawning Grounds 7. For anyone simply interested in just looking at pretty pictures, or interested in something to ruminate over if video games are an interest of theirs, I heartily suggest taking a gander. His material on Exile is some of my favorite, given how he somehow makes an awesome game better!

Robert A. Heinlein - If you couldn't already guess, I dig science fiction, and the older stuff moreso. Mr. Heinlein is no exception. And I don't care what claim Games Workshop supposedly has to 'space marines', given that this guy (and a coupla' others) all beat those toads to it, (and can make more interesting space marines to boot!)

Syd Mead - A futurist artist of great repute and resume. A good chunk of his early days were doing futuristic paintings for Ford. If I were to look at a non-dystopic future, I would see it in his worlds. The stylings have 50's leanings, but with the right counter of post-modernism to balance it out. The new world look may not be to everyone's tastes, but there's hope, and a bright future to be had in each of his works, and it is things like his paintings that keep my hopes for the future high. That sounded pretty corny, no? All the same, this man is my favorite visual artist ever.

Tales from Earthsea - Or Gedo Senki, is an animated film by Studio Ghibli roughly(?) based on a collection of stories under the same name, as I recall tell. I've only ever watched it a few times, but the setting, along with various other objects and designs that persist about the world made it special. And definitely a setting I would enjoy running or playing a campaign to.

Unobtainium - Phlebotinum, handwavium, et cetera. This is the magical sauce, the stuff, and the E-99 that makes the latest gadgets, gizmos and reactors run on all cylinders. Often a plot point or enabler in any piece of fiction, without Unobtainium we would instead have to rely on real world materials that wouldn't work as well, either stretching plausibility, or completely throwing adventure out the window.

Vallejo, Boris - If Syd Mead is my fondness for the future, Boris is my fondness for monsters and babes in the company of monsters. A maker of very fantastical illustrations, but I'm sure we already know who he is.

Wipple Shields - Science has told me that wipple shields are a very important asset to spacecraft. So what made them get this spot? Simple: it's one of the first realizations of space armour, and is almost as important as radiation shielding. How wipple works, is that it is a very thin layer of ablative material designed to take hits from micro-meteorites, using their own kinetic energy against them, disintegrating the particles with little more than superficial damage to the surfaces below the shield.

X-Files - One thing I've  humored myself with repeatedly is how much this show is an inverse to Scooby-Doo. They kept thinking it wasn't so, yet always found the supernatural. Scoob and Crew are always on the hunt for a monster, but it's always that old man Jenkins. Incidentally, this post is moreso aimed at my general paranormal interests, and the title music still invokes an emotional response from me.

Yazirians - These anthropomorphic, gliding apes are positively my favorite of the main races in Star Frontiers. I couldn't really tell you why, and it definitely is not the battle rage ability, but the idea of power gliding across some moon with bubble goggles might have some say in the matter.

ZOrk - You wouldn't believe how hard I had to think of, and remember, the only interest of mine that starts with a zed. So, Zork. The text adventure role-playing game. Where being eaten by a grue was punishment for trying to not find a lamp. Originally, as I recall, the eponymous grue was added to replace the fallible logic of stumbling into a bottomless pit in the dark, given that this pit could happen in nonsensical locations. I had the gameboy version, not the original.


  1. I liked the Earthsea anime too. It drew bits of story from many different novels, but I think it succeeded in capturing the spirit of the setting. I would highly recommend the books too, if you have not read them, particularly A Wizard of Earthsea and The Farthest Shore. The only one I have not read is Tehanu. If you are familiar with the recent Rothfuss fantasy novels (The Name of the Wind, etc) it should be clear that the true name magic of Earthsea was a huge inspiration to him.

    1. I'm afraid I've not read the books, not yet anyway.